This should tide Star Wars fans over until The Book of Boba Fett arrives.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier might have come to an end, but that just means Disney+ are moving on to the next big thing. On Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you, by the way), the streaming service is kicking off festivities with the release of Star Wars: the Bad Batch. This animated series acts as a follow-up to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, set during and after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, when Clone Troopers first began executing the evil schemes of the Empire.
Not all Clones are bad, though. This series follows a group of elite and experimental Clones with a complete disregard for the Empire’s authority. Naturally, the group rebels against their would-be superiors and fights for good wherever they can in a rapidly changing galaxy. Star Wars: The Bad Batch hails from Dave Filoni, who’s been in charge of so many projects in this universe lately. That means you’ll likely see characters and storylines from all sorts of Star Wars movies and TV shows pop up in The Bad Batch, and wind up clueless if you haven’t been following the franchise religiously.
There’s a lot of Star Wars to keep up with these days, but don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know before watching Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
To explain exactly who The Bad Batch are and where they came from, we have to rewind a little to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In Season 3 of that animated series, we were shown Clone troopers who come out of Kamino deformed - not quite as ready for battle as their brethren. This doesn’t mean that the ‘defective’ Clones were evil, or had a broken moral compass though. They were every bit as compassionate and ready to die for the cause as their siblings, but they’d have to do so while dealing with a couple of strange genetic mutations.
The Bad Batch are what happens when Clones experience these genetic mutations, and actually come out stronger and more highly-skilled than the average Clone Trooper. In a Season 7 arc of The Clone Wars beginning with the episode ‘The Bad Batch’, we were introduced to an elite team of Clones with unique skills that allow them to execute missions far too dangerous for ordinary Clones. The Bad Batch currently has five members, one of whom is rather new to the team - but we’ll get to him later. Let’s run through the Bad Batch’s original members first.
The Bad Batch are led by Hunter (you’ll notice their names double as rough descriptions of their skills too), a Clone with enhanced senses. He functions as the team’s tracker, capable of sensing electromagnetic signals and generally making sure that a target doesn’t get away scot-free. His visual design isn’t subtle - he’s basically Star Wars' "Rambo". Every good A-Team knockoff needs a big gun to get the job done too, and Wrecker is the Bad Batch’s very big gun. He’s your typical giant-muscled strongman with a kind heart.
Whenever the team needs to hack into a door or turn off some cameras, they turn to Tech. This Clone is incredibly intelligent, adept at picking up any piece of tech and figuring out how to either dismantle it or use it against others in a split second. Then you have Crosshair, a Clone who doesn’t talk much and does all his fighting from a distance. He’s a sniper, the most mysterious of the Bad Batch bunch, and he never misses. Well, maybe he misses sometimes. Nobody’s perfect.
The team’s latest recruit is the former ARC Trooper Echo. Echo is…complicated. He was originally introduced as a member of Domino Squad in The Clone Wars, and later assumed dead when he was blown up in Season 3. In Season 7 however, we learned that the Separatists had kept him captive all this time while experimenting on him. Anakin Skywalker, wholesome good guy with absolutely no dark side whatsoever, worked with The Bad Batch to free him. Echo has been through hell and back, but he has a bunch of enhancements thanks to all this cruel experimentation and will probably act as the upcoming series’ heart.
You know what the funniest thing about The Bad Batch is? The extremely talented Dee Bradley Baker plays all the Clones - all of them - which means that for this entire series, you’re just hearing one guy talk to himself in five different ways.
There’s some other stuff you should know before checking out The Bad Batch. First off, this series takes place right after the Emperor executed Order 66 - causing Clone Troopers to suddenly betray and kill their Jedi comrade-in-arms all over the galaxy. The Clone Wars Season 7 revealed that the Empire did this by using a secret biochip implanted in the Troopers’ heads, which allowed even our favourite Clone Commander Rex to turn on Ahsoka Tano.
Eventually, Ahsoka managed to remove this biochip and restore Rex’s free will. The Bad Batch however, didn't obey Order 66 (how that happened remain to be seen). Rex has become something of a staple character in Filoni’s Star Wars animated shows (The Clone Wars, Rebels), so don’t be surprised if he pops up here too. Grand Moff Tarkin also reappears from Star Wars: A New Hope, and appears to be The Bad Batch’s main villain. He can’t have a bunch of defect Clones going around causing trouble for the Empire, so he’s on a mission to set them straight. By killing them, that is.
The show also has connections to The Mandalorian. Remember those Dark Troopers Din Djarin had so much trouble dealing with in the Season 2 finale? Tarkin throws a bunch of these horrifically powerful creatures at the Bad Batch in the show’s trailer as a test, and here we see exactly what sets them apart from the rest of the Clones. Instead of taking down the Dark Troopers with guns and grenades, they’re throwing knives, shooting knives (how?!) and even suplexing a couple of them. They take out all the Dark Troopers with ease though, and considering how difficult they were to deal with in The Mandalorian, that seems rather impressive.
Ming-Na Wen also returns as Fennec Shand, who’s currently partnered up with Boba Fett as they (presumably) take over Tatooine's criminal underworld in The Book of Boba Fett. The Bad Batch features a much younger version of her character, back when she still operated as a bounty hunter. Fennec seems to tangle with The Bad Batch in the trailer, so one can assume that she’s not on their good side. We also have the mentally troubled Saw Gerrera return from Star Wars: Rogue One. This Rebel fighter also appeared in Star Wars: Rebels and the videogame Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. He will likely fight alongside the Bad Batch against the Empire in this series.
Based on the trailer, it looks like the Bad Batch will also run into a new character, referred to via closed captioning as ‘Omega’. Omega is a young child who apparently hails from Kamino, the Clones’ birthing place. The Bad Batch get into a fight there for reasons unknown, and later takes the kid in for adventures across space. Star Wars and kids, name a more iconic combo. We don’t know who exactly Omega is, but it's a safe bet that they’re a young Clone - though their appearance seems radically different from the rest of them.
I wouldn’t worry about binging through Star Wars: the Clone Wars and all its related media to understand this show, even if it acts as a direct sequel. The series will likely tell you everything you need to know about these characters, and background information on characters like Saw Gerrera and Fennec Shand is helpful - but probably not necessary for you to enjoy the show as a whole.
You never know, though. With The Mandalorian’s many nods and tie-ins to The Clone Wars, more Star Wars properties could get referenced here. We could even see Filoni introduce plot elements here to later bring into future Star Wars projects. To quote the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s pre-Endgame tagline: It’s all connected.